Category Archives: Bishop Stefan (Sabelnik)

Nativity Epistle 2016

(click here for PDF format)

Nativity Epistle
from Trenton, New Jersey

 We greet you with the holiday of Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. May our Lord grant you spiritual joy on this blessed day of the Incarnation of the Word of God.

Once again, by the mercy of God, we celebrate the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. The holiday of our Lord’s Nativity, also known as Christmas, has always been a time of spiritual joy and continues to bring fond memories of childhood, a time when we – through our naiveté, saw an affinity of ourselves with the Infant lying in the manger.

With time, however, especially with the onset of these difficult times of apostasy, many have fallen into apathy. It is as if spiritual joy is no longer as abundant as it once was. Why is this? Could it be because those who we thought were truly faithful Orthodox and our brothers & sisters in Christ have now departed, and so much has changed that we are left with the foreboding that we no longer have the fullness of grace we once had when saints – such as Saint Metropolitan Philaret and St. John – walked amongst us??

Perhaps some sort of despondency has befallen us, and we no longer see a reason to rejoice. Is this distress our fault?? Actually, it is! Because we have fallen for the allure of the Deceiver telling us that our Church is not as good as it once was. We must equate this with agnosticism. God has not left us! “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” (Psalm 33:20)

Was Apostle Paul’s life ‘better’ than ours? Let us read what he writes in regards to his concerns:”Thrice I was beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep. In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen… in perils among false brethren.” (II Cor.11:25-26)

Have we gone through tribulations such as these? Hardly! Be that as it may, Apostle Paul was not despondent, and neither will we be, because God is with us, understand, O ye nations, and submit yourselves: for God is with us!

I greet all the faithful Friends and Flock on the feast of the Nativity of Christ!

+Bishop Stefan
December 25, 2015/January 7, 2016



Paschal Encyclical 2015


Christ is Risen!

Once again, the most-merciful God has vouchsafed us to arrive at the feast of Pascha. The Church calls upon all of us to “enjoy this fine and bright festival, those who had labored, and those who had been slothful, those who had fasted, and those who had not fasted.” (Paschal Encyclical of St. John Chrysostom)

“The beatifically honorable Lord will accept the last even as the first… He shows mercy upon the last and gratifies the first… and He both accepts the deeds and welcomes the intention and honors the acts and praises the offering.” With these words Saint John Chrysostom reveals to us the benevolence of God and calls upon each believer to enter without distress into the joy of our risen Lord and Savior.

And this joy is not earthly, but spiritual, mystical and therefore is not subject to psychological analysis or testing and is indescribable in any human language. This joy, as the Holy Hierarch John so vividly construes, is not given in accordance with our accomplishments. This is God’s gift abundantly bestowed on this chosen and holy day. What a comfort! “And your heart shall rejoice and your joy no man taketh from you.” (John,16:22)

May God grant all of you, from the first to the last, this Paschal joy, this comfort in our Lord and Savior.

Your humble +Bishop Stefan                                                 Pascha, 2015
of Trenton and North America

(A Russian version is available on our Russian-language website.  Click here.)

Nativity Epistle 2015

of Bishop Stefan of Trenton and North America

By God’s mercy we have again acquired the opportunity to renew our glorification of the King of Glory for His great condescension toward us sinners.  The King of the Archangels and Angels, the Creator of heaven and earth descends from the heavens and becomes the Son of Man.  The uncontainable God becomes contained in the womb of the Virgin.  The Word of God takes on the image of a servant, becomes incarnate for the sake of our salvation.  The King of Glory comes down from the heavens in order to raise us up to heaven!

On this blessed night the heavens united with the earth for the first time.  The heavens opened up and man for the first time heard the wondrous announcement from the Heavenly Angels:  “behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Lk.2:10,11).  And here, for the first time, man heard the Angelic singing “Glory to God in the highest, good will toward men”!

 To our great sorrow, we observe that on the earth there is no peace, but one should not be surprised by this:  this was foretold and “this is meant to be”.  But it is particularly sad that among Orthodox church people we see less and less frequently “good will in men”!

The primordial enemy of our salvation conquered for himself the Church Abroad not only with assaults from “without”, but from within he strives with great effort to overcome each soul, to destroy everyone, down to the last person!  His goal is to sew doubt in the holiness of the Church and indifference toward Christ’s Truth, to distance the soul from the grace of the Holy Spirit Who guides man toward every Truth.  The Light of Christ is extinguished in such a person and his soul becomes darkened and instead of peace, there appear indignation, wrath and even malice toward yesterday’s friends.

Frequently and often in the history of the Christian Church the faithful were subjected to persecution, enticement and assaults from heretics and apostates.  They managed to draw away many of “these little ones” to follow them, often even members of their own families would cross over to the side of the heretics.  But nevertheless, the faithful did not become wrathful and did not chide them, but prayed for these betrayers, keeping in remembrance that “God wishes for all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth”.

May the Lord grant a prosperous and peaceful life and love not so much for our own but also for those who hate and offend us.  Whoever prays for his enemies and wishes them well, in him the grace-filled peace of God comes to dwell, a love which is not hypocritical, but replete with “good will toward men”.

I greet all the faithful Friends and Flock on the feast of the Nativity of Christ!

+Bishop Stefan
December 25, 2014/January 7, 2015

Response to “Edict” of the Moscow Patriarchate Bishops Abroad

From Bishop Stefan:

Response to “Edict” #09/2014 of the Moscow Patriarchate Bishops Abroad

Esteemed former brethren in the bosom of the ROCA:

Seven years later you decided to depose us, the eight bishops who did not go with you in your pernicious move to unite with the Moscow Patriarchate.

Immediately, unwittingly, the falsehood written in your “edict” stands out, that we “did not heed the several admonitions and suspensions from your ruling hierarchs”. I, over the course of the last seven years never received anything like that from anyone – neither admonitions, nor suspensions, nor letters, nor words. My last exchange of words with any one of you, was with Metropolitan Laurus on 29 May/11 June, 2007.

When Met. Laurus saw that he was not able to persuade me to follow your traitorous path, he asked me in writing to hand over to him the Antimins, holy myrrh, and book of records. I traveled to Jordanville and personally handed him all that he had requested. The conversation was brief. I fulfilled his request and he fulfilled my desire for me and my parishioners to be left alone and we parted forever. No suspension from my “ruling archbishop” ever followed!

I attach a copy of the receipt from that day (29 May/11June, 2007) with the personal signature of Metropolitan Laurus, which states: “Herein, Protopriest Stefan is relieved of all duties with regards to the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (75 East 93rd St., New York, NY 10128).”

This falsehood of yours is trivial and forgivable compared to your unification with the false Moscow Patriarchate.

  • All of our hierarchs, including Metropolitan Vitaly asserted that “the Church Abroad in preserving its purity, should not have any canonical, prayerful or even simple daily association with the Moscow Patriarchate” (Metropolitan Anastasy).

“Can a church have grace when it has united with theomachists?! The answer is clear!” (Metropolitan Philaret of New York).

And you, despite the fact that within the Moscow Patriarchate nothing has changed and they have remained strangers to repentance, you stubbornly continue to assert that the MP in some incomprehensible manner has suddenly become canonical and with grace? Since when did it become a church with grace?! They insist that they always had and continue to have grace, and you are leaving this matter without clarification.

  • The MP not only justified the betrayal by Met. Sergius, but it praises it, considering that even in the future, for its self-preservation the church can save itself by means of union with the godless and with pagan-worshippers which has become known as “Sergianism”. But your position with regards to this anti-Christ innovation also remains without clarification.
  • The MP established its “church” with the assistance of godless ones and performed uncanonical consecrations of godless KGB agents, and others appointed by the secular authorities. Ordinations of such appointees are invalid and without grace, and as such, cannot be the recipients of the grace of Apostolic Succession. Who knows how many pseudo-hierarchs who did not have apostolic succession have since continued their unlawful consecrations. Now it is no longer possible to determine who among the MP hierarchs have apostolic succession, for without apostolic succession, the church is not Apostolic, but a false, grace-less pseudo church. This same church, consisting of unlawful bishops and clergy is the one with which you are in Eucharistic inter-communion.
  • Patriarch Alexei II supposedly took upon himself all the sins of his colleagues.

Blasphemously, by this statement alone, he released the persecutors of the Church of Christ, those who lifted up a hand against the Annointed One, who killed clergymen, destroyed the temples of God and defiled our fatherland, from responsibility and anathema. No court would allow a father or mother to assume responsibility for the murder committed by their son, in order to absolve the son of responsibility. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I never heard that in the history of the Christian Church someone would have dared consider that he, like Christ, has been given the authority to take upon himself the sins of the world?! Do you believe this to be admissible?! In this matter, your position remains enigmatic.

  • The MP continues to participate in the World Council of Churches and despite your “hopes” to dissuade them from associating in prayer with heretics, it continues to actively participate in ecumenism. Everyone knows that the MP does not recognize our 1983 anathema against ecumenism. Do you recognize it? Whether you recognize it or not, you are under this anathema because of your association in prayer with them, and not only with them but with the others participating in ecumenism. It turns out that for seven years you were waiting for us to “repent”, but now you say you depose us because we “did not heed your many admonitions” (your edict) and did not join you in your anathema!?
  • By your compromises you have brought such disorder into your churches, that the faithful laugh, saying, “We now celebrate Nativity twice. The children particularly like this because now they find gifts under the tree twice.” Having celebrated Nativity on December 25th new style, for them meat-eating begins, despite the fact that these days are still within the Nativity Fast. And the strictest day of this fast, the Eve of the Nativity of Christ, again they break the fast, celebrating the Theophany. Some of them, on the following day, come to your churches in order to again celebrate the Nativity. I will not delve deeper into details concerning the other disorder to do with the Peter Paul and Dormition fasts, with the Paschalia, etc.. It is possible that by some means you have found a way out of this situation, but for us any compromise is foreign, and what is happening in your situation is unacceptable.
  • In our Church Abroad, just as in ancient times, the people elected the clergy.

When the bishop ordained, he pronounced, “axios” – the people in approval repeated thrice “axios”. If they disapproved, they shouted “anaxios”. The body of the faithful always was and is the foundation of the spirit of faith and the fear of God. In your part of the Church Abroad this no longer exists! When you recognized the MP as your mother church and its head as lawful patriarch, you ceased to be considered hierarchs of the Church Abroad. From that day when you went under the yoke of the MP and submitted to their regulations and requirements, you became hierarchs of the Abroad part of the Moscow Patriarchate. From that day on your suspensions are invalid.

We have not changed anything, nor are we changing anything, but we hold and value everything as was commanded by the Holy Hierarch Philaret and the sacred Laws of God. We did not leave the Church Abroad, have not deviated from the Church laws and have violated no canons. When we saw that you entered into association with heretics, which is strictly forbidden by the Church, we acted pursuant to the 15th Rule of the Council of Constantinople, stepping away from you so as not to be co-participants in your betrayal. Not we, but you violated the testaments of our Church Abroad and went through the wide gates into the embrace of the powerful of this world.

We do not wish you evil, but wish your salvation. With God all things are possible. It is likewise possible that at the current time you are not interested in any statements of fact or proof. Therefore I will only ask one thing of you – Leave us alone.

+Bishop Stefan
Trenton and North-America
1/14 November 2014

This statement can also be found on his website, here.

Statement Concerning the Union of the Synod in Resistance & the GOC

Bishop Stefan, our diocesan bishop, recently wrote a statement regarding the union of the Synod in Resistance (SiR) with the Genuine Orthodox Church (GOC).  Here is the text of his statement:

The Synod in Resistance & the GOC

† Bishop Stefan of Trenton and North America

      The following statement is not the official statement of the RTOC, but my personal observations and concerns. Many faithful do not know what to make of this union, and have brought some questionable details to my attention. This statement is a reply to some of these concerns.
Many see this unity in a positive light and now say that we must also join the GOC Synod under Archb. Kallinikos, saying that the Church in Resistance has renounced Cyprianism. This, however, does not appear to be genuine – and talks with the hierarchs of this new Union are not possible until points of contention are cleared up.
The Old Calendarist Association (Koinotita) has sent a certain number of letters to the GOC Synod before and after their union with the Synod in Resistance in order to have details of it. The Association could never get an answer to the most critical questions regarding the position of the former Cyprianites. The cyprianists seem indeed to practice the double speech saying to their flock that they changed nothing in their teaching and that their departure was justified whereas at the same time the union is presented to the flock of GOC-K as a repentance of the cyprianites. To add more to the confusion, the permanent silence of the synod is worrying. Since the union, the key documents are still missing.
(Par Theophylactere – Publie dans : orthodoxie-libre)

The following is an excerpt from a letter to the GOC from the Greek Religious Community of the True Orthodox Christians (Athens):
There is the claim that these Cyprianites Bishops have signed precisely the opposites of what they preached in the presence of their flock with “uncovered/naked head” and that the signed documents are hidden in the offices of the Holy Synod, which none from us has ever seen, even though we requested for them repeatedly.
We do know that all taking place in hiding and with severe confidentiality for matters of faith are not acceptable because our Lord and God accepts only those things that the Bishops preach “uncovered/naked head’, in the presence of their flock. Deceitfulness in Orthodoxy is unacceptable, i.e. to preach one thing and sign another.
These Bishops assured their flock a few days prior to the concelebrating (12.3.2014) that the things they believed in up to that moment were correct (i.e. they insist upon their heresy). At this point it must also be noted that the Cyprianites Bishop Chrysostomos of Etna (attachment 4) while informing his flock, he declared the following: Firstly you must be certain that none of our principles, none of our temperance and none of the spirit that was bequeathed to us by the previous Reverend Archbishop Cyprianos have been put aside (revoked).

What is most troubling is the fact that this new union [the GOC & the Church in Resistance] continues to renounce our anathema on Ecumenism, which was declared in 1983, – a time when both these churches were in communion with ROCOR. This, as well as their failure to recognize our anathema on Sergianism [placing Christ’s Church under the full control of a secular government whose goal it was to destroy the Church] continues to impress upon their faithful that the uncanonical & heretical practices of the MP & other Ecumenical Entities do not rise to the level of a false church. This brings us to the question; what is ‘a Church?’
Many have come to terms with the idea of there being three so called categories of churches:
1. A false church – Catholic, Anglican etc.
2. An Orthodox church with questionable and/or unacceptable practices such as the new calendar, ecumenism etc. –an “ailing church”.
3. An Orthodox True church – the Church of Christ: “Even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it…That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, without flaw, or wrinkle, or any such thing: but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5: 25, 27)
The concept of three categories is incorrect. Since the times of the first Christians there were heretical teachings. The Saints and Holy Fathers made every effort to put a stop to the false teachings, and when the heretics refused, they were placed under anathema; cast out of the Church. The faithful were told – as they are being told to this very day – not to follow their teachings and not to pray with them. ‘End of story’ as they say. No where do we find further speculation concerning the breath of the Holy Spirit and validity of sacraments of those who are outside the Church.
There is only one church of Christ. It is the One True Church. There is no second rate or ailing church with wrinkles and blemishes. They are all false churches. The blessed Saint Metropolitan Philaret [of New York] considered the MP a false church. Metropolitan Vitaly considered it a false church. If it is not a false church, then – the church created by Metrop. Sergius and Stalin – is an integral part of Christ’s true church!
It comes down to this: Do the hierarchs of this new union consider the MP & any other church that is practicing ecumenism a ‘church of Christ’ or ‘a false church’? There can be no mincing of words. It has to be one or the other. If they avoid responding to this question, or continue to insist that there are churches in this second category, they are preaching Cyprianism.
Likewise, if the complaints of deception and continued non-disclosure of documents are true, they have a problem that we cannot be a part of.
This reminds me of two corporations who have been going through litigation for many months, or even years. Then, through arbitration, they come to a settlement for an undisclosed dollar amount – with neither party admitting any wrongdoing.

Ascension of our Lord.
May 29, 2014

The statement can also be found on the Bishop’s website, by clicking here.